Mosquitoes don't have too many fans. Their bites are itchy, they spread disease, and their numbers swell rapidly. But just what would happen if we all woke up tomorrow in a world that was completely empty of mosquitoes?
Public health entomologist Grayson Brown joined us today to take our questions about mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, including Malaria, West Nile, and Chikungunya. One question, in particular, kept popping up — and it wasn't one that was particularly flattering to the blood-sucking insect. What would happen if we wiped out the mosquito population? Brown explains:
If mosquitoes went extinct: Mosquito larvae are very important in aquatic ecology. Many other insects and small fish feed on them and the loss of that food source would cause their numbers to decline as well. Anything that feeds on them, such as game fish, raptorial birds, etc. would in turn suffer too. Mosquitoes can be wiped out but the ecological damage that would be necessary (draining swamps/wetlands, applying pesticides over wide areas), along with strict regulatory enforcement, would make eradication not worth it unless there was a very serious public health emergency.
You can read Brown's whole Q&A — including where he calculates just how many mosquitoes it would take to suck a person dry like a vampire (and then explains why they couldn't) — right here.
Image: CDC/ James Stewart